Among European Union countries, Bulgaria had the highest percentage of people at risk of poverty in 2018, but the country also had seen the largest decrease in people at risk of poverty between 2008 and 2018, EU statistics agency Eurostat said.
In 2018, more than a quarter of the population was at risk of poverty or social exclusion in seven EU countries: Bulgaria (32.8 per cent), Romania (32.5 per cent), Greece (31.8 per cent), Latvia (28.4 per cent), Lithuania (28.3 per cent), Italy (27.3 per cent) and Spain (26.1 per cent).
At the opposite end of the scale, the lowest shares of persons being at risk of poverty or social exclusion were recorded in the Czech Republic (12.2 per cent), Slovenia (16.2 per cent), Slovakia (16.3 per cent, 2017 data), Finland (16.5 per cent), the Netherlands (16.7 per cent), Denmark and France (both 17.4 per cent) and Austria (17.5 per cent).
Among EU countries for which 2018 data are available, the at risk of poverty or social exclusion rate has grown since 2008 in nine member states: Luxembourg (from 15.5 per cent in 2008 to 21.9 per cent in 2018, or +6.4 percentage points) Greece (+3.7 pp), Estonia (+2.6 pp), Spain (+2.3 pp), Italy and the Netherlands (both +1.8 pp), Sweden (+1.3 pp), Denmark (+1.1 pp) and Cyprus (+0.6 pp).
In contrast, the largest decrease was observed in Bulgaria (from 44.8 per cent to 32.8 per cent, or -12.0 pp), Romania (-11.7 pp) and Poland (-11.6 pp), followed by Hungary (-8.6 pp) and Latvia (-5.8 pp).
Looking at each of the three elements contributing to being at risk of poverty or social exclusion, 16.9 per cent of the EU population were at risk of poverty after social transfers in 2018, meaning that their disposable income was below their national at risk of poverty threshold.
This proportion is stable compared with 2017 (16.9 per cent), but is still slightly higher than in 2008 (16.6 per cent).
As the thresholds reflect actual income distribution in the countries, they vary greatly both between member states and over time.
Across the EU member states, more than one in five people were at risk of income poverty in Romania (23.5 per cent), Latvia (23.3 per cent), Lithuania (22.9 per cent), Bulgaria (22 per cent), Estonia (21.9 per cent), Spain (21.5 per cent) and Italy (20.3 per cent).
In contrast, the lowest rates were observed in the Czech Republic (9.6 per cent), Finland (12 per cent), Slovakia (12.4 per cent, 2017 data), Denmark (12.7 per cent), Hungary (12.8 per cent), the Netherlands and Slovenia (both 13.3 per cent) and France (13.4 per cent).
Compared with 2008, the proportion of persons at risk of income poverty has increased in 16 EU countries, for which data are available, and decreased in eight
In the EU in 2018, 5.8 per cent of the population were severely materially deprived, meaning that they had living conditions constrained by a lack of resources such as not being able to afford to pay their bills, keep their home adequately warm, or take a one week holiday away from home.
This proportion has decreased compared with both 2017 (6.6 per cent) and 2008 (8.5 per cent).
The share of those severely materially deprived in 2018 varied significantly among member states, ranging from 20.9 per cent in Bulgaria, 16.8 per cent in Romania and 16.7 per cent in Greece, to less than four per cent in Luxembourg (1.3 per cent), Sweden (1.6 per cent), the Netherlands (2.4 per cent), Czech Republic, Austria and Finland (all 2.8 per cent), Malta (three per cent), Germany (3.1 per cent), Denmark (3.4 per cent), Slovenia (3.7 per cent) and Estonia (3.8 per cent).
Compared with 2008, the proportion of people severely materially deprived has increased in seven member states for which data are available, and decreased in 17, Eurostat said.